Exhibit to honor local African-American veterans
A new permanent exhibit opening next week will honor High Point’s black men and women who have served in the military.
“The African-American Soldier: Our History, Our Story, Our Time” will open Monday at the Rosetta C. Baldwin Museum, in conjunction with the museum’s annual Veterans Day commemoration, set to begin at 11 a.m.
The exhibit will feature vintage photos of local African-Americans who served in the military from the Civil War through the war in Afghanistan, as well as artifacts such as military uniforms, war medals and supplies.
“The goal is to bring more awareness to African-Americans and how they have contributed to the military throughout history,” said Phyllis Bridges, owner of Yalik’s Modern Art, which coordinated the exhibit. “Blacks fought in all of the wars — from the Revolutionary War up to now — but it’s a subject you don’t hear a lot about. Hopefully, this exhibit will make people more aware of those contributions.”
According to Bridges, the exhibit initially will feature about two dozen photos of black veterans representing all of the branches of the military, but the photos will be rotated with other photos Bridges has collected.
“This year it will focus on all of the military branches,” she explained, “but after this year, we’ll rotate and feature one military branch or one war era. This first exhibit will be mostly photos from some of the earlier years — World War II, Korea and Vietnam.”
Each photo represents the unique stories of the individual veterans and their service.
Consider, for example, the story of the late Sgt. John Willie Mingo, an Army Ranger and career soldier from High Point who fought in Korea and Vietnam. In Vietnam, Mingo fought in — and survived — the Battle of Ia Drang, one of the fiercest battles of the Vietnam War, earning a Bronze Star for valor and a Purple Heart for injuries sustained in the battle.
The battle became the subject of a book, “We Were Soldiers Once ... And Young,” and later was made into the movie “We Were Soldiers,” starring Mel Gibson. The book specifically pointed out Mingo’s gallantry during the battle, explaining that as a member of the 7th Cavalry Regiment, he captured prisoners during the three-day battle.
Other photos in the exhibit include the likes of Julius Clark, director of the Rosetta C. Baldwin Museum, who served in the Navy; and Daniel Brooks, who fought in the Civil War.
In addition to the photos, the exhibit will include a women’s military uniform, a display of war medals, and supplies such as a first-aid kit and other emergency-type materials.
“We have so much that we can show — we just don’t have the space,” Bridges said. “We already need to expand.”
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“The African-American Soldier: Our History, Our Story, Our Time,” a new permanent exhibit at the Rosetta C. Baldwin Museum, will open Monday in conjunction with the museum’s annual Veterans Day program.
The program will be from 11 a.m. until 12:30 p.m. at the museum, which is located at 1408 R.C. Baldwin Ave. The guest speaker will be retired Air Force Lt. Col. Frankie T. Jones Sr., a highly decorated military commander.
Admission is free.
For more information, call the museum at 336-289-1942.